Bournemouth council reject compulsory licensing scheme

Bournemouth council, a major English local authority, has voted to reject calls for compulsory licensing for landlords.

Instead, the council say, the problems which mandatory licensing would seek to address will be tackled by using the council's existing powers to clamp down on any landlords who abuse the law. The council issued a report which analysed responses from both residents and landlords, and arrived at the decision to move against the trend elsewhere - such as in Newham - towards compulsory licensing.

In the wake of the decision Councillor Rob Lawton, housing portfolio holder, was quick to reassure the public that this did not mean the council was going soft on rogue landlords: "Make no mistake -if a landlord does not comply with legislation the council will prosecute them."

Council leader Councillor John Beesley offered a more ambivalent response, making it clear that he was still sympathetic with advocates of compulsory licensing: "I thought licensing was the answer, but lessons from other local authorities are invaluable.

"We want to get it right and tackle as many problems as we can. Working with other bodies is the absolute key."

The report which rejected compulsory licensing schemes

The report itself, freely available to access from the Bournemouth council website here, noted that residents themselves were largely in favour of a licensing scheme: "Residents were clearly supportive of an Additional Licensing Scheme, either on its own (52%) or in combination with a better Accreditation Scheme (34%)."

However landlords were less keen: "The opinion of landlords was divided, with very few supporting any kind of Additional Licensing Scheme.  Around one third of landlords (36%) favoured continuing with the current schemes and initiatives (Option 4).  One quarter (26%) would welcome extending the Accreditation Scheme and a further quarter (24%) didn't favour any of the options put forward."

In the end, the report concludes that, "In light of the consultation and examination of the data, the Council will need to consider making greater use of enforcement powers, further develop the landlord accreditation scheme and create stronger partnership working with stakeholders."

14 November 2012